St. John’s record against ranked teams had been nothing to write home about. That changed on Sunday as the No.25 Red Storm (ESPN/USA Today) picked up a 75-71 overtime win over No.16 Georgetown at Carnesecca Arena. It was the fifth win in seven games for the Red Storm.
How big was it? The Red Storm was 0-5 against ranked teams this season. It was a different story on Sunday thanks to the play of sophomore forward Amanda Burakoski, who hit five three-pointers and led the Red Storm with 15 points.
Nadirah McKenith had 13 points and nine assists and Da’Shena Stevens added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
It was much-needed victory for the Red Storm (17-7, 6-5 Big East), which is back over .500 in the Big East and within striking distance of a top-four finish. St. John's currently in sole possession of 8th place in the Big East, trails Marquette, Louisville and Rutgers, who are all tied at 7-4, by one game. A good week of basketball could have St. John's sitting pretty in fifth place.
More importantly, it strengthens St. John’s case for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Barnes Arico, who’s led St. John’s to three NCAA appearances in the last six years, talked about that after the game on Sunday.
Said Barnes Arico: “I think we talked about Rutgers being a signature win to get into the tournament and now this just really helps our resume of getting into the tournament tremendously.”
With five games left against winnable opponents –South Florida, Syracuse, Villanova, Pittsburgh, West Virginia– the Red Storm, barring a complete collapse, are virtual certainty to make the tournament. But Barnes Arico wasn’t ready to start celebrating a bid yet.
“We can’t look past any opponent because that’s how good this league is, especially when you have to go on the road. And we have to go to South Florida next,” Barnes Arico said. “They play well at home, they’re athletic. And I think the most important thing from our standpoint right now is that you can’t go and have a letdown at this point in the year.”